Friday, June 10, 2011

rain days, shopping, singing-along, pretending to study, and more!

This post was written on June 8.

Today it didn’t rain ONCE. However due to yesterday’s frequent and copious rain spells, school today was cancelled because of flooding. I guess in Kerala we have ‘rain days’ instead of ‘snow days’?

At first I was kind of bummed. I had been looking forward to my classes and had a good lesson plan, darn it! But it’s funny how the days you expect to be the worst can turn out to be the best, and vice versa. Today was one of those days. So was yesterday.

Yesterday was one of those surprising days in that I expected it to be good but it ended up being sort of…blah. No one’s fault, really, I just found myself very much in the background amidst the chaos of the new school year. I only had 4 classes to teach, 2 of which ended up being cancelled, and all the teachers are so busy with class rosters, more new admissions, myriad lists, and the like, that it was a little lonely. But after-school ended up being better than school itself.

Although today more than made up for yesterday. It was, as I mentioned, a surprising day in that my first thought of the morning, upon finding out school was cancelled due to flooding, was, ‘oh great, another day of nothing.’ But then, I resolved to make it something.

I went walking/jogging with a pack of children, we played on the playground, and I took a shower (or, a bucket, as Maggie, Jim, and I affectionately call the act)—all before breakfast. Breakfast was one of my other favorites (next to uppu mav, which I mentioned in my last post)—pal appam and kadala curry. I spent more time with the younger children and then read some of my latest book—Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son. Then I kept one of the TTC students company in the study hall while she was working on some homework, and before we knew it, it was lunchtime.

Okay, so maybe the morning doesn’t sound all that exciting. But it was enjoyable—a good mix of fun and rest. The afternoon got more interesting, though; after lunch, I went with the Speechly College students to Chingavanam. (Speechly College is a college (surprise!) located on the Buchanan campus. There are a handful of Speechly students who live in the boarding hostel where the TTC (teacher training course) students and I live. Chingavanam is the nearest town).

It was great to hang out with the Speechly girls. I don’t spend a whole lot of time with them regularly as they speak English fluently and were I to be super friendly with them, it would probably attract some animosity from the TTC students, etc, and look like I was showing favoritism just because the Speechly girls speak English. So it was really nice to get out with them and not feel bad for socializing with them in front of other people, for once.

We got ice cream and checked items off the LONG shopping list that had been given to us by the TTC students (they aren’t allowed to leave the Buchanan campus). We arrived back to Buchanan just in time for me to make it to my engagement with the KNH Hostel (a hostel located on Buchanan’s campus that is funded by a charity in Germany. It houses girls who are orphaned or from underprivileged families). Jim came, too, guitar in hand, and we taught them a few English songs. We also performed a couple—isn’t that a funny thought? ME, singing, for a crowd?? As if I actually had some sort of vocal talent?? …haha!

It went really well—for most of the girls, it was probably their first time seeing/hearing a guitar played in person. The favorite song was ‘Kumbaya’; the fun, fast-paced version, that is. By the end of our hour with them, they could sing it by themselves!

From the guitar/singing program I went straight to exercise class. The girls who were ‘regulars’ last year still come, as well as many of the boarding students who are new as of this year. The new students, especially, make it really fun and keep me laughing with their goofy dance moves.

Not too long after exercise class there was a knock on my door. It was Joshmi, one of the TTC students. She asked if I was free, to which I replied yes, and she then asked me to come to her room. It kind of seemed like something might be wrong, and after the two of us sat down on her bed, she said “Madi chechi, we are really sad. Last year we got to talk to you all the time but now with the new Kochamma (warden), we don’t talk as much.” I said, “Joshmi, I know! I miss you guys a lot. With your new schedule and all of your study time I’m afraid to interrupt and get you in trouble with Kochamma.” Part of the problem is also that, due to the new study schedule, rule of absolute quiet, etc, most of the girls now stay confined in their rooms, with the doors closed, rather than roaming around the hostel like they used to. Anyway I thought it was really cute that they had obviously made a group decision to call me into their room (there were other students present, too—Deepa, Merlin, and Tincy) so we could have some intentional hang out time. I ended up staying for about an hour and a half—it’s amazing how a closed door and quiet talking can make it seem as though those inside are actually studying ;) And we decided that such visits would happen more often from now on. Before, I just felt bad interrupting, and I really missed the girls, even during just the past week—but now I know they’ve missed me, too.

One very terrifying detail of my otherwise good day that I’ve forgotten to mention is that a monstrous, impossibly big cockroach jumped down the back of my churidar while I was with the Speechly students shopping in Chingavanam…TRAUMATIZING.

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning.” –Mahatma Ghandi

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